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- “This is a president who is very comfortable with deep reflection and discussion around the theological implications of faith,” says David Domke, communications professor at the University of Washington and co-author of “The God Strategy: How Religion Became a Political Weapon in America.”
Previous presidents have certainly invoked religion and displayed a comfort with the language of faith. Dwight Eisenhower is still the only president to have written a prayer that he read at his first inauguration. He was baptized not long after. And he once said of himself, “I am the most intensely religious man I know.” Several decades later, Jimmy Carter taught Sunday school at a Baptist church not far from the White House during his presidency. George W. Bush cited Jesus as his favorite political philosopher in an Iowa debate before the 2000 GOP caucuses, and he enthusiastically made the support of faith-based organizations one of his first domestic policy priorities.
Bill Clinton may come the closest to Obama in being a president whose speeches occasionally veered into sermon territory. At one point during the 1992 campaign, Clinton traveled to Memphis to address the annual Church of God in Christ convention. Dissatisfied with remarks his staff had drafted, Clinton tossed them aside and delivered an extemporaneous sermon on the “new covenant” between government and citizens, drawing “amen”s from the crowd.
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